twenty-six Questions

November 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

What did I ask? Click there and I will show you. Here is a sample:

Q: One of the largest criticisms of advertising is that it oppresses women and displays them as objects for sex. How have advertisers used this common criticism to empower women and gain their trust through brands?
A: There is a common phrase in defense of oppressing advertisements: “sex sells.” I don’t really think sex sells at all, emotion creates a brand, which sells products, and sometimes sex is part of that. By conforming to other advertising and  marketing products towards men by using sexy women, advertisers settle into the average zone. It’s not bold. It’s boring. Twenty years ago it was new and exciting, but now, sexy women on billboards is nothing special.

A good example of “sex sells” vs. “emotion sells,” is men’s body wash. Two big companies, Unilever and Proctor and Gamble, take completely different strategic approaches to advertise their products. Axe takes this “sex sells” traditional approach. They assume that since they are advertising men’s body wash, men will be buying the body wash. The advertisements use many large-breasted women falling for a man who uses Axe. The problem is that men don’t buy their own body wash; their wives do. Most women don’t want to buy a product that displays women as animals attracted to Axe. They don’t want their man to have sex with any large-breasted women, so they don’t buy them Axe.
So who buys Axe? Un-married middle-school aged boys who dream of herds of women chasing them down the beach. Axe made themselves that brand, and realizes it, so they must continue, or risk abandoning all those boys dreaming of those women. Rather than trying to change that, Unilever, the company that owns Axe and Dove, came out with a whole new product, Dove for Men. Dove for Men is perfect because women already love Dove. They love Dove’s 2006 “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which shows that all women are beautiful, regardless of shape or size. Dove for Men capitalized on an already strong brand and took large market-share in men’s body wash upon introduction.

Old Spice also realized that mostly women buy men’s body wash, so they created a character who women and men would both love, the Old Spice man, Isaiah Mustafa. The Old Spice man is sexy and sleek; his “Hello Ladies,” sends shivers down women’s spines everywhere, reminding them that their man could be like the Old Spice man. For men, he offers humor, and the line, “smell like a man, man” resonates. Both Old Spice and Dove put women in control of their bodies and their man’s body, while Axe takes power away and gives it to men, making women appear animalistic, like they are there to serve their man.

Advertisers have a huge opportunity to make women feel good about themselves, that only a few brands have taken advantage of, including Dove and Nike. Not only is this an opportunity to target women, it is also part of building brand karma and doing good things, while making the advertising community better.

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§ One Response to twenty-six Questions

  • Kerry says:

    Interesting post…and you are so right. I’m a female who also thinks highly of Dove since their “real beauty” campaign. I buy soap (Dove) not body wash, but if I bought body wash for my guy…I’d buy Dove or Old Spice …Axe wouldn’t get my consideration. After reading this post I realize (as a married female) that I have a negative emotional response to Axe already in place.

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